Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

How Baseball Owners Made Their Fortunes

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Baseball season is finally here, so let's take a look at the people profiting from $16 stadium beers.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Ken Kendrick (Part-Owner)

Owner Since: 1995

The Numbers: Forbes estimates the Diamondbacks are worth $447 million. Kendrick was a founding part-owner of the franchise in 1995 and became Managing General Partner in 2004.

Collector: Kendrick owns the most expensive baseball card in history, the T206 Honus Wagner. He paid $2.8 million for the card—dubbed the "Gretzky T206 Honus Wagner" because Wayne Gretzky was one of its previous owners—in 2007. Kendrick owns more than 10,000 baseball cards.

How He Got Rich: In the '70s, Kendrick merged his data technology firm with another to create Datatel, Inc. The company specializes in information processing and software products for higher education.

Atlanta Braves: Liberty Media (Chairman John C. Malone)

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, fair use

Owners Since: 2007

The Numbers: The media group bought the Braves in 2007 for $450 million. The baseball franchise is worth around $508 million today. Forbes estimates the company's Chairman, John Malone, to be worth $7.1 billion.

Other Holdings: Liberty Media either owns or holds large shares of QVC, Expedia, Sirius XM Radio, and Barnes & Noble.

How He Got Rich: Malone started in telecomunications at AT&T and served as the President and CEO of TCI before becoming the Chairman of Liberty Media Group.

Baltimore Orioles: Peter Angelos

Owner Since: 1993

The Numbers: Angelos led a group of investors in the $173 million acquisition of the Baltimore Orioles. They were awarded the franchise in bankruptcy court.

Other Investors: Techno-thriller novelist Tom Clancy was a member of that investment group and made $230 million from his original $43 million stake in the team. That buys a lot of U.S. Navy baseball hats.

How He Got Rich: Angelos is a successful personal injury attorney. He represented the state of Maryland in their suit against Philip Morris and his firm also took on the manufacturers of the diet drug Fen-Phen.

Boston Red Sox: John W. Henry

Owner Since: 2002

The Numbers: After he sold the Florida Marlins, John W. Henry and his partner Tom Werner paid $380 million for the Red Sox in 2002. The team is now worth $1.3 billion.

Other Ventures: Henry is also the principal owner of the Boston Globe and Liverpool FC, and is a part-owner of NASCAR's Roush Fenway Racing team.

How He Got Rich: John Henry started a commodities management company in 1981. According to Forbes, he is "winding down" the "struggling" firm.

Chicago Cubs: Thomas S. Ricketts

Image courtesy of TonytheTiger, used under Creative Commons license.

Owner Since: 2009

The Numbers: The Ricketts family bought the Cubs for $700 million.

Wrigley Connection: After college, Ricketts lived with his brother in an apartment across the street from Wrigley Field. He also met his wife in Wrigley's bleachers during a game.

How He Got Rich: Tom Ricketts is a director of TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation (his father founded Ameritrade in 1983). He is also the chairman of Incapital LLC, an investment firm. The Ricketts family wealth is estimated at $1 billion.

Chicago White Sox: Jerry Reinsdorf

Owner Since 1981

The Numbers: Reinsdorf bought the White Sox for $20 million. The team is now worth an estimated $695 million.

Other Ventures: Reinsdorf also owns the Chicago Bulls. He bought the then-financially struggling basketball team in 1985. The Bulls are now one of the most profitable franchises in sports.

How He Got Rich: Reinsdorf started his career as a tax attorney. He went on to specialize in real estate tax shelters and investments in properties that were under construction.

Cincinnati Reds: Robert Castellini

YouTube

Owner Since: 2006

The Numbers: Castellini led a group that purchased the team for $270 million from dairy billionaire Carl Lindner, Jr. in 2006.

Frequent Buyers Club: Robert Castellini was a member of the St. Louis Cardinals' ownership group as well as the investment group that purchased the Baltimore Orioles.

How He Got Rich: He is the president of a Cincinnati-based fruit and vegetable wholesaler.

Cleveland Indians: Larry Dolan

YouTube

Owner Since: 1999

The Numbers: Larry Dolan bought the team for $323 million. The Indians are now estimated to be worth $600 million.

Family Business: His brother Charles founded Cablevision, which controls the Madison Square Garden company. That entity, which is now run by Larry's nephew James, owns the New York Knicks and New York Rangers.

How He Got Rich: Dolan was a successful lawyer and is a managing partner of a large Ohio-based firm.

Colorado Rockies: Charles and Richard Monfort

Owners Since: 1992

The Numbers: The Monfort brothers bought a controlling interest in the expansion team in 1992, paying $92 million. The Rockies are now worth an estimated $575 million.

They Don't Quite Agree With Those Numbers Above: Dick Monfort thinks the club is worth a little more than Forbes' estimate. In an email to the Denver Post, he wrote, "The Astros sold for $600 million, as did the Padres, so I would guess that is the realm of our value. Then you do balance sheet adjustment. Forbes is close."

How They Got Rich: Their father sold his meat processing and distributing company for $365.5 million to ConAgra Foods in 1987. Both brothers work as executives there.

Detroit Tigers: Mike Ilitch

Owner Since: 1992

The Numbers: Ilitch bought the Tigers in 1992 for $82 million. The team is worth an estimated $680 million.

Second Baseman: He played minor league ball for four years before injuring his knee.

How He Got Rich: Pizza pizza. In 1959, Ilitch opened Little Caesars Pizza in Garden City, Michigan. A massive franchise followed, and Illitch is worth an estimate $2.7 billion today.

Houston Astros: Jim Crane

Owner Since: 2011

The Numbers: Crane paid $465 million for the Astros in 2011.

Scratch Golfer: Golf Digest ranks Crane as the world's best CEO golfer. As of 2006, he had a 0.8 handicap.

How He Got Rich: Crane founded Eagle Global Logistics, Inc., a worldwide transportation and supply management company, in 1984. He served as CEO until it merged with CEVA Logistics in 2007.

Kansas City Royals: David Glass

Owner Since: 2000

The Numbers: Glass was the CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Royals in 1993 and eventually bought the team in 2000 for $96 million. They are now worth an estimated $490 million.

How He Got Rich: From 1988 to 2000, Glass served as CEO of Wal-Mart.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Arturo Moreno

Owner Since 2003

The Numbers: Moreno bought the Angels from The Walt Disney Company in 2003 for $180 million.

Pioneer: Moreno is the first ever Mexican American owner of a major U.S. sports team.

How He Got Rich: He started his career in advertising and eventually became the CEO of Outdoor Systems, a billboard company. Moreno sold Outdoor Systems in 2008 for a reported $8 billion. He is now worth an estimated $1.15 billion.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Guggenheim Baseball Management (CEO: Mark Walter)

Owner Since: 2012

The Numbers: Guggenheim Baseball Management, a group let by Mark Walter (Magic Johnson is another notable member), purchased the Dodgers in 2012 for $2 billion—a record amount for a sports team.

How He Got Rich: Walter is a founder and CEO of Guggenheim Partners, LLC, a financial and investment firm based in New York and Chicago.

Miami Marlins: Jeffrey Loria

Owner Since: 2002

The Numbers: Loria had become majority owner of the Montreal Expos in 1999. After a series of miscues (some accuse these of being deliberate), Loria couldn't secure English-language television rights and demanded tax funds for a new stadium (the request was denied). In 2002, with the help of commissioner Bud Selig, Loria sold the Expos to MLB for $120 million. John W. Henry, the owner of the Marlins at the time, then sold the Florida team to Loria for $158.5 million, making it possible for Henry to buy the Red Sox. The Expos were then moved to D.C. to become the Nationals. All three moves happened almost simultaneously, with all parties working closely together on the switches.

Nice Painting, Can it Play Third?: In 2013, Loria sold one Alberto Giacometti painting for $32.6 million. As Yahoo! notes, that's over $6 million less than the Marlins' payroll at the time.

How He Got Rich: After studying art in college, Loria became head of the Vincent Price Collection of artwork at Sears (yes, this was a thing). After leaving the department store, he opened his own gallery and became a successful art dealer.

Milwaukee Brewers: Mark Attanasio

Owner Since: 2005

The Numbers: Attanasio led a group that purchased the Brewers from the Selig family for $223 million.

Collector: After his collection of Yankees Topps cards was stolen from a cousin's house, Attanasio tried to replenish the entire set by buying replacements on eBay.

How He Got Rich: Attanasio co-founded Crescent Capital Group, an investment firm, in 1991. The group was sold to the Trust Company of the West in 1995, and he stayed on as an executive.

Minnesota Twins: Jim Pohlad

Owner Since: 1984

The Numbers: Carl Pohlad purchased the Twins in 1984 for $44 million. After his death in 2009, his son Jim inherited the team, which is now worth an estimated $605 million.

Number Cruncher: When his father bought the Twins, Jim Pohlad worked as an analyst and made payroll projections for the team.

How He Got Rich: Pohlad's father got into the banking industry after the great depression and became a successful investor in industries like aviation and soft-drink bottling. At the time of his death, Carl Pohlad's net worth was estimated at $3.6 billion.

New York Mets: Fred Wilpon (Majority Owner)

Owner Since: 2002

The Numbers: In 2002, Wilpon and his family became the majority owners of the Mets for a total sum of $391 million.

Madoff Money: Wilpon invested heavily with Bernie Madoff. After Madoff's infamous Ponzi scheme fell apart, victims sued Wilpon and other Mets owners for knowingly supporting the fraud. They agreed on a settlement of $162 million, as well as the acknowledgment that Wilpon and the Mets' ownership had no clue about the scheme.

How He Got Rich: In the 1970s, Wilpon and his brother started Sterling Equities, a real estate development company. They focused on real estate at the bottom of the market and the business soon boomed.

New York Yankees: Hal Steinbrenner

Owner Since: 1973

The Numbers: George Steinbrenner led a group that purchased the Yankees from CBS for under $10 million in 1973. They are now worth $2.5 billion, making them the most valuable team in baseball and the fourth most valuable franchise in all of sports.

How He Got Rich: Hal was given control of the Yankees in 2007 by his father, George, as his health began to wane. The family's money originally came from the Kinsman Marine Transit Company, a shipping business purchased by George's great-grandfather in 1901.

Oakland Athletics: Lewis Wolff and John L. Fisher (Co-Owners)

Owner Since: 2005

The Numbers: Wolff led the ownership group that bought the A's for $180 million in 2005. The majority owner is John J. Fisher, who staked most of the money.

Soccer Side Projects: Fisher has small ownership investments in the San Jose Earthquakes of the MLS and Scottish side Glasgow Celtic.

How He Got Rich: Wolff made his fortune in real estate. He began as an appraiser in St. Louis before moving west and becoming a development mogul in San Diego. His companies now manage hotel properties around the world.

Fisher is an heir to the Gap clothing fortune. He is worth an estimated $2.8 billion.

Philadelphia Phillies: David Montgomery (Managing Group Partner)

Owner Since: 1981

The Numbers: David Montgomery is managing partner of the group that bought the Phillies from the Carpenter family for $30 million in 1981.

Heckling the Team He'd One Day Run: As a teenager, Montgomery would attend Phillies games with friend (and future Pennsylvania Governor) Ed Rendell. One time, after ribbing Phillies reliever Turk Farrell, Rendell recalls, “[Farrell] got so mad he looked like he was going to throw a ball at us, and Turk could really hum the ball. We were scared to death.”

How He Got Rich: Montgomery's wealth comes from within the franchise—he was the team's director of sales and marketing before becoming its business director shortly before the purchase.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Robert Nutting

Owner Since:1996

The Numbers: Robert Nutting purchased the team for $92 million. The Pirates are now evaluated to be worth $572 million.

Air Pirate: Nutting is a licensed commercial pilot and flight instructor.

How He Got Rich: Nutting is the President and CEO of Ogden Newspapers, a publisher of over 40 newspapers and media outlets across the U.S. that was started by his great-grandfather in 1890.

San Diego Padres: Ron Fowler

Image courtesy of Bagumba, used under Creative Commons license.

Owner Since: 2012

The Numbers: Fowler was a member of the minority ownership group of the Padres and organized a new group that bought full ownership of the team in 2012 for $800 million (as much as $200 million of the sale included the rights to Fox Sports San Diego).

Other Ventures: Fowler used to own the San Diego Shockers, an indoor soccer team that dissolved in 1996.

How He Got Rich: Fowler is the chairman of Liquid Investments, a West Coast beer distribution company.

San Francisco Giants: Charles Bartlett Johnson (Principal Owner)

YouTube

Owner Since 1992

The Numbers: In 2012, Charles B. Johnson upped his stake in the Giants' ownership group and became principal owner (the group had purchased the team in 1992 for $100 million).

Low-Visibility Owner: Johnson watched the Giants' 2010 World Series victory at home on TV and he sent his daughter to represent him during the parade.

How He Got Rich: Johnson was the Chairman of Franklin Resources, which controls mutual fund purveyor Franklin Templeton. His father founded Franklin Distributors in 1947. Charles B. Johnson's net worth is estimated at $7.7 billion.

Seattle Mariners: Nintendo (represented by CEO Howard Lincoln)

Owner Since: 1992

The Numbers: Gaming giant Nintendo bought the Mariners in 1992 in a deal worth $100 million. The team is now worth $710 million. Howard Lincoln became the CEO of the Mariners after the death of majority shareholder and former Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi.

Baseball?: When he bought the Mariners, Yamauchi admitted that he had never been to a baseball game in his entire life. Despite owning the team for 20 years until his death, Yamauchi never attended a single game.

How He Got Rich: Lincoln started his career with Nintendo as a lawyer before eventually working his way up to Chairman in 1994.

St. Louis Cardinals: William DeWitt, Jr.

Owner Since: 1995

The Numbers: DeWitt and his partners purchased the Cardinals from Anheuser-Busch for $150 million.

Serial Investor: Before buying the Cardinals, DeWitt was a member of groups that invested in the Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles.

How He Got Rich: DeWitt is a founder of the investment firm Reynolds, DeWitt & Co., which owns various properties such as the U.S. Playing Card Company and dozens of Arby's franchises.

Tampa Bay Rays: Stuart Sternberg

Owner Since: 1995

The Numbers: Sternberg is the Rays' principal owner—he bought a controlling interest in the team for $200 million.

Adios, "Devil": In 2007, Sternberg oversaw the team's name change from "Devil Rays" to, simply, "Rays": "We were tied to the past, and the past wasn't necessarily something we wanted to be known for."

How He Got Rich: Sternberg started investing in the stock market and worked in the industry until 2002, when he retired from Goldman Sachs as a partner. According to the New York Times, "he cashed out...for a reported $400 million."

Texas Rangers: Ray Davis

YouTube

Owner Since: 2010

The Numbers: Davis bought the Rangers for $593 million. The team is now valued at $825 million.

Invisible Owner: After the (suspected) ousting of team CEO Chuck Greenberg, the notoriously hard-to-find Davis talked to reporters to answer questions. Davis quickly reminded them not to get used to it: "Neither Bob [Simpson] or I expect ever to do another press conference."

How He Got Rich: Ray Davis's estimated net worth is around $1.9 billion. He made his money in the energy sector, acting as CEO of Energy Transfer Equity, L.P. until 2007.

Toronto Blue Jays: Rogers Communications (Chairman: Alan Horn, CEO: Guy Lawrence)

Wikimedia Commons

Owner Since: 2000

The Numbers: Rogers Communications acquired the Blue Jays in 2000 for $137 million.

Company Ownership: The Blue Jays are one of three Major League Baseball teams to be owned by a company (The Braves and Seattle Mariners are the other two).

Washington Nationals: Ted Lerner

Owner Since: 2006

The Numbers: The Lerner Family bought the Nationals from MLB for $450 million.

Other Ventures: Lerner is a partner in Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Verizon Center and the Washington Wizards and Capitals.

How He Got Rich: Lerner, a real estate mogul, began by building shopping centers in rural Maryland. His net worth is estimated to be around $4 billion.

See Also:

How NBA Owners Made Their Money
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How NFL Owners Made Their Money

All images courtesy of Getty Images unless otherwise stated. Financial numbers are from Forbes unless otherwise stated.

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Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for PCA
12 Surprising Facts About Robin Williams
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for PCA
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for PCA

Robin Williams had a larger-than-life personality. On screen and on stage, he embodied what he referred to as “hyper-comedy.” Offscreen, he was involved in humanitarian causes and raised three children—Zak, Zelda, and Cody. On July 16, HBO debuts the documentary Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind, directed by Marina Zenovich. The film chronicles his rise on the L.A. and San Francisco stand-up comedy scenes during the 1970s, to his more dramatic roles in the 1980s and '90s in award-winning films like Dead Poets Society; Good Morning, Vietnam; Awakenings; The Fisher King; and Good Will Hunting. The film also focuses on August 11, 2014, the date of his untimely death. Here are 12 surprising facts about the beloved entertainer.

1. ROBIN WILLIAMS GOT HIS START AT A COMEDY WORKSHOP INSIDE A CHURCH.

A still from 'Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind' (2018)
HBO

After leaving Juilliard, Robin Williams found himself back in his hometown of San Francisco, but he couldn’t find work as an actor. Then he saw something for a comedy workshop in a church and decided to give it a shot. “So I went to this workshop in the basement of a Lutheran church, and it was stand-up comedy, so you don’t get to improvise with others, but I started off doing, ostensibly, it was just like improvising but solo," he told NPR. "And then I started to realize, ‘Oh.’ [I started] building an act from there."

2. HE FORMED A FRIENDSHIP WITH KOKO THE GORILLA.

In 2001, Williams visited Koko the gorilla, who passed away in June, at The Gorilla Foundation in Northern California. Her caregivers had shown her one of his movies, and she seemed to recognize him. Koko repeatedly signed for Williams to tickle her. “We shared something extraordinary: laughter,” Williams said of the encounter. On the day Williams died, The Foundation shared the news with Koko and reported that she fell into sadness.

3. FOR A TIME, HE WAS A MIME IN CENTRAL PARK.

In 1974, photographer Daniel Sorine captured photos of two mimes in New York's Central Park. As it turned out, one of the mimes was Williams, who was attending Juilliard at the time. “What attracted me to Robin Williams and his fellow mime, Todd Oppenheimer, was an unusual amount of intensity, personality, and physical fluidity,” Sorine said. In 1991, Williams revisited the craft by playing Mime Jerry in Bobcat Goldthwait’s film Shakes the Clown. In the movie, Williams hilariously leads a how-to class in mime.

4. HE TRIED TO GET LYDIA FROM MRS. DOUBTFIRE BACK IN SCHOOL.

As a teen, Lisa Jakub played Robin Williams’s daughter Lydia Hillard in Mrs. Doubtfire. “When I was 14 years old, I went on location to film Mrs. Doubtfire for five months, and my high school was not happy,” Jakub wrote on her blog. “My job meant an increased workload for teachers, and they were not equipped to handle a ‘non-traditional’ student. So, during filming, they kicked me out.”

Sensing Jakub’s distress over the situation, Williams typed a letter and sent it to her school. “A student of her caliber and talent should be encouraged to go out in the world and learn through her work,” he wrote. “She should also be encouraged to return to the classroom when she’s done to share those experiences and motivate her classmates to soar to their own higher achievements … she is an asset to any classroom.”

Apparently, the school framed the letter but didn’t allow Jakub to return. “But here’s what matters from that story—Robin stood up for me,” Jakub wrote. “I was only 14, but I had already seen that I was in an industry that was full of back-stabbing. And it was entirely clear that Robin had my back.”

5. HE WASN’T PRODUCERS' FIRST CHOICE TO PLAY MORK ON MORK & MINDY.

Anson Williams, Marion Ross, and Don Most told The Hallmark Channel that a different actor was originally hired to play Mork for the February 1978 Happy Days episode “My Favorite Orkan,” which introduced the alien character to the world. “Mork & Mindy was like the worst script in the history of Happy Days. It was unreadable, it was so bad,” Anson Williams said. “So they hire some guy for Mork—bad actor, bad part.” The actor quit, and producer Garry Marshall came to the set and asked: “Does anyone know a funny Martian?” They hired Williams to play Mork, and from September 1978 to May 1982, Williams co-headlined the spinoff Mork & Mindy for four seasons.

6. HE “RISKED” A ROLE IN AN OFF-BROADWAY PLAY.

Actor Robin Williams poses for a portrait during the 35th Annual People's Choice Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium on January 7, 2009 in Los Angeles, California
Michael Caulfield, Getty Images for PCA

In 1988, Williams made his professional stage debut as Estragon in the Mike Nichols-directed Waiting for Godot, which also starred Steve Martin and F. Murray Abraham. The play was held off-Broadway at Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center. The New York Times asked Williams if he felt the show was a career risk, and he responded with: “Risk! Of never working on the stage again! Oh, no! You’re ruined! It’s like you're ruined socially in Tustin,” a town in Orange County, California. “If there’s risk, you can’t think about it,” he said, “or you’ll never be able to do the play.”

Williams had to restrain himself and not improvise during his performance. “You can do physical things,” he said, “but you don’t ad lib [Samuel] Beckett, just like you don’t riff Beethoven.” In 1996, Nichols and Williams once again worked together, this time in the movie The Birdcage.

7. HE USHERED IN THE ERA OF CELEBRITY VOICE ACTING.

The 1992 success of Aladdin, in which Williams voiced Genie, led to more celebrities voicing animated characters. According to a 2011 article in The Atlantic, “Less than 20 years ago, voice acting was almost exclusively the realm of voice actors—people specifically trained to provide voices for animated characters. As it turns out, the rise of the celebrity voice actor can be traced to a single film: Disney’s 1992 breakout animated hit Aladdin.” Since then, big names have attached themselves to animated films, from The Lion King to Toy Story to Shrek. Williams continued to do voice acting in animated films, including Aladdin and the King of Thieves, Happy Feet, and Happy Feet 2.

8. HE FORGOT TO THANK HIS MOTHER DURING HIS 1998 OSCAR SPEECH.

In March 1998, Williams won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance as Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting. In 2011, Williams appeared on The Graham Norton Show, and Norton asked him what it was like to win the award. “For a week it was like, ‘Hey congratulations! Good Will Hunting, way to go,'” Williams said. “Two weeks later: ‘Hey, Mork.’”

Then Williams mentioned how his speech accidentally left out one of the most important people in his life. “I forgot to thank my mother and she was in the audience,” he said. “Even the therapist went, ‘Get out!’ That was rough for the next few years. [Mom voice] ‘You came through here [points to his pants]! How’s the award?’”

9. HE COMFORTED STEVEN SPIELBERG DURING THE FILMING OF SCHINDLER’S LIST.

At this year’s 25th anniversary screening of Schindler’s List, held at the Tribeca Film Festival, director Steven Spielberg shared that Williams—who played Peter Pan in Spielberg’s Hook—would call him and make him laugh. “Robin knew what I was going through, and once a week, Robin would call me on schedule and he would do 15 minutes of stand-up on the phone,” Spielberg said. “I would laugh hysterically, because I had to release so much.”

10. HE HELPED ETHAN HAWKE GET HIS AGENT.

During a June 2018 appearance on The Graham Norton Show, Ethan Hawke recalled how, while working on Dead Poets Society, Williams was hard on him. “I really wanted to be a serious actor,” Hawke said. “I really wanted to be in character, and I really didn’t want to laugh. The more I didn’t laugh, the more insane [Williams] got. He would make fun of me. ‘Oh this one doesn't want to laugh.’ And the more smoke would come out of my ears. He didn’t understand I was trying to do a good job.” Hawke had assumed Williams hated him during filming.

After filming ended, Hawke went back to school, but he received a surprising phone call. It was from Williams’s agent, who—at Williams's suggestion—wanted to sign Hawke. Hawke said he still has the same agent today.

11. HE WAS ALMOST CAST IN MIDNIGHT RUN.

In February 1988, Williams told Rolling Stone how he sometimes still had to audition for roles. “I read for a movie with [Robert] De Niro, [Midnight Run], to be directed by Marty Brest,” Williams said. “I met with them three or four times, and it got real close, it was almost there, and then they went with somebody else. The character was supposed to be an accountant for the Mafia. Charles Grodin got the part. I was craving it. I thought, ‘I can be as funny,’ but they wanted someone obviously more in type. And in the end, he was better for it. But it was rough for me. I had to remind myself, ‘Okay, come on, you’ve got other things.’”

In July 1988, Universal released Midnight Run. Just two years later, Williams finally worked with De Niro, on Awakenings.

12. BILLY CRYSTAL AND WILLIAMS USED TO TALK ON THE PHONE FOR HOURS.

Actors Robin Williams (L) and Billy Crystal pose at the afterparty for the premiere of Columbia Picture's 'RV' on April 23, 2006 in Los Angeles, California
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Starting in 1986, Williams, Billy Crystal, and Whoopi Goldberg co-hosted HBO’s Comic Relief to raise money for the homeless. Soon after Williams’s death, Crystal went on The View and spoke with Goldberg about his friendship with Williams. “We were like two jazz musicians,” Crystal said. “Late at night I get these calls and we’d go for hours. And we never spoke as ourselves. When it was announced I was coming to Broadway, I had 50 phone messages, in one day, from somebody named Gary, who wanted to be my backstage dresser.”

“Gary” turned out to be Williams.

Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind premieres on Monday, July 16 at 8 p.m. ET on HBO.

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Walt Disney Pictures
10 Facts About Hocus Pocus
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures

In a 2014 Reddit AMA, Bette Midler said she'd be interested in doing a Hocus Pocus sequel. "You have to go to send in your cards to the Walt Disney company," she said. "The ball's in their court." While you get those cards ready, here are some facts about the original, which arrived in theaters 25 years ago today.

1. THE STORY ORIGINATED AS A BEDTIME STORY.

The story for Hocus Pocus came about after writer David Kirschner invented a bedtime story for his kids. He later wrote the story up and submitted it to Muppet Magazine (why does this not still exist?), where it gained recognition.

2. THE WRITERS USED PROPS TO PITCH IT TO STUDIO EXECUTIVES.

Bette Midler in 'Hocus Pocus' (1993)
Walt Disney Pictures

To pitch the story to Disney, the writers had execs enter a dark room with broomsticks and a vacuum cleaner hanging from the ceiling. They also scattered 15 pounds of candy corn throughout the room in an effort to invoke Halloween nostalgia. It obviously worked!

3. IT WAS NOT AN IMMEDIATE HIT.

Though it’s a cult classic now, Hocus Pocus didn’t do that well when it first came out in 1993, perhaps because it was released in July instead of September or October. Though it didn’t have a terrible opening—$8,125,471, putting it in fourth place at the box office that weekend—it fell to $2,017,688 a few weeks later, and bad reviews from the critics didn’t help matters.

Entertainment Weekly was particularly put off by the movie, calling it a “piece of corny slapstick trash” and saying that “It’s acceptable scary-silly kid fodder that adults will find only mildly insulting. Unless they’re Bette Midler fans. In which case it’s depressing as hell.”

4. BETTE MIDLER LOVES IT.

Bette Midler, by the way, has said that Hocus Pocus is her favorite film out of all of the films she’s ever done. (At least as of 2008.) Thora Birch agreed, recently saying, “The most fun I ever had on a film was Hocus Pocus.”

5. KATHY NAJIMY LOVES IT, TOO.

Midler isn't the only star of the film who isn't immune to its allure: Kathy Najimy has said she watches the movie with her family every year on August 15.

6. IT COULD HAVE STARRED LEONARDO DICAPRIO.

The role of Max was originally offered to Leonardo DiCaprio. He turned it down to do What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.

7. SARAH JESSICA PARKER IS RELATED TO A WOMAN FAMOUSLY ACCUSED OF BEING A WITCH.

Had Sarah Jessica Parker known then what she knows now, she might have approached the role of Sarah Sanderson a little differently. When the actress went on the show Who Do You Think You Are to trace her family history, Parker discovered that one of her ancestors was Esther Elwell, one of the women accused of being a witch during the Salem Witch Trials. After a young girl said she saw Esther’s “spectre” strangling neighbor Mary Fitch, Elwell was arrested, but escaped going to trial.

8. THORA BIRCH REVISITED THE NEIGHBORHOOD IN AMERICAN BEAUTY.

While the kids are prematurely celebrating victory against the Sanderson sisters after locking them in the kiln, they’re shown talking in front of a house as they walk to a park. The house was later used as the house Thora Birch’s character lived in for American Beauty.

9. THE KIDS WEREN'T HUGE FANS OF THE CATS.

The kids all hated working with the cats. Many different cats were used to represent Binx, and each one served a different purpose—one was good at cuddling with the kids, one would jump on command, etc. Every time a new cat was used, the children would have to coerce the kitty to trust them by using treats and a clicker. They got sick of it.

10. MUCH OF THE ORIGINAL CAST REUNITED FOR A 20TH REUNION.

Most of the cast participated in a 20th anniversary event for D23 (the Disney fan club) members. Sarah Jessica Parker and Bette Midler were not in attendance, but pretty much everyone else was, including Kathy Najimy (Mary Sanderson), Vinessa Shaw (Allison), Omri Katz (Max), Thora Birch (Dani), and Doug Jones (Billy Butcherson). You can watch some of that reunion above.

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